Phar Lap (1983)

PG   |    |  Biography, Drama, Family


Phar Lap (1983) Poster

The true story of an Australian racehorse that became a champion, with the help of a local stableboy.


7.3/10
1,502

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Reviews & Commentary

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20 December 2005 | ccthemovieman-1
9
| Another Amazing Racehorse
A good horse racing story - especially if it's based on real life - usually gets my attention and this is no exception. Phar Lap was a famous New Zealand race horse. This was another Seabiscuit-type horse who overcame big odds to achieve greatness. He just never got much press outside of New Zealand, I guess. Rob Leibman, as the generally unlikable guy in the film (who does have a few good moments, to be fair) is the most interesting actor in here. However, the star of the movie, outside of the horse, is Tom Burlinson, the best friend Phar Lap ever had and the only likable male in the film. The story never lagged and was beautifully shot. I am still waiting for a DVD of this and hopefully it will be made. It deserves having one and I was hoping it would ride the coattails of the Seabiscuit publicity tail, but apparently not. In summary, a nice story of a horse who triumphs despite a greedy trainer and owner who overwork the animal....at least according to the movie. Yeah, I realize there is a good chance much of this was exaggerated. The film industry tends to fictionalize these "true" stories. Whatever the case, this is a great story.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy Eliot, Phar Lap's jockey at Agua Caliente had been devastated by Phar Lap's mysterious death, gave his saddle to George Woolf as a gesture of friendship. Woolf went on to become one of America's greatest riders, using the saddle on his favourite mount, Seabiscuit (2003), who, like Phar Lap, captivated a nation in the midst of the depression. The saddle was Woolf's lucky charm. From that date on until the time of his death he used it. Coincidentally, the only time he did not use it, from the time when Elliot gifted it to Woolf, was in his last race which he, unfortunately, was killed in.


Quotes

Dave Davis: This is not a horse, Harry. This is a cross between a sheepdog and a kangaroo.


Goofs

Early in the film, in early 1928, Phar Lap's trainer Harry Telford (Martin Vaughan) insists that the horse's name must contain seven letters, because the names of the last four Melbourne Cup winners had contained seven letters. In fact, only one of the previous four Melbourne Cup winners in the period in question, 1924-27, had seven letters in its name - Windbag, in 1925. The other winners in that period were Backwood (1924), Spearfelt (1926) and Trivalve (1927). Nor did the subsequent 1928 winner, Statesman, nor the 1929 winner, Nightmarch (to whom Phar Lap ran third), have seven letters in their names.


Alternate Versions

The original release opens with Phar Lap's death, with the rest of the film told in flashback. For it's American release where the story of Phar Lap is less known, the opening was removed, making Phar Lap's unexpected death more dramatic.


Soundtracks

Painting the Clouds with Sunshine
(uncredited)
Music by
Joseph A. Burke
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Brian Hannan

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Biography | Drama | Family | History | Sport

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